The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has been described as the basis of the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution, otherwise known as Industry 4.0. IIoT is essential to manufacturing. But why? What benefits does the technology bring to the industry?
IIoT brings connectivity, automation, and data analytics to the factory floor. Embedded or attached sensors gather data, which is then used as the basis of analytics and machine learning processes to create a “smart factory.”
Smart factories employ a number of different technologies, including
machine learning to analyze data
sensors and other monitoring devices to improve production efficiency through real-time decision making
integrated robotics that can work alongside human workers
All of these technologies integrate with or rely on IIoT.
We’ve attached an infographic below to answer the question of what makes IIoT so valuable to manufacturing. If you find it useful, feel free to download and use the high-resolution version available at the end of this article.
This article will focus on the qualities of RTDs vs Thermocouples and their typical applications and principles.
Measuring temperatures in industrial engineering is a key part of monitoring the operation of the various mechanical, electrical, and electronic systems, determining their performance, and evaluating their health.
Likewise, in chemical processes, temperature and heat control may be crucial in achieving the desired end product. Additionally, the same applies to welding, heat treatment processes, industrial ovens used for plastic shrinking, and a wide range of other possible applications. That said, measuring temperatures is neuralgic in a wide range of engineering operations, and doing so with accuracy and precision is equally important.
While there are many types of thermometers that can be used for measuring temperatures including the familiar “mercury” thermometers, the bimetallic, and the vapor pressure thermometers, those that are most commonly and widely used in the industrial environment are the resistance temperature detectors (RTD) and the thermocouple devices. Both of these thermometer types have their respective advantages and drawbacks, and they are both suitable and valuable for a distinctively different set of applications.
Working Principle of Resistance Thermometers (RTD)
The RTD temperature sensor is based on the temperature dependence of the electric resistance of metals. As the temperature increases for metal, so does its electrical resistance. Of course, there’s an intrinsic coefficient of resistance for all materials, and a positive value for this coefficient makes specific materials better than others for the measurement element role. With nickel and platinum, for example, there is near-perfect linearity that is introduced by their respective coefficients, resulting in high accuracy and precision across repeated measurements. Moreover, nickel and platinum are generally chemically stable and extremely resistant to corrosion.
There are reasons to bring legacy equipment into the Industrial Internet of Things (IIot) Age.
Most manufacturers work with older equipment. A 2017 McKinsey report notes factory machinery and tools have an average age of 11 years. Industrial equipment lasts by design; we even use the term “industrial strength” to attribute higher-than-usual durability and power to everything from bug spray to boots. And when something is still working–and working well–a full upgrade to something new can be a difficult sell.
But many of these older legacy systems were created before the age of connected manufacturing systems, which bring with them a number of added benefits. A connected “smart factory” can mean higher productivity, increased flexibility, a safer manufacturing floor, and lower costs.
One option that bridges the gap between a full upgrade and missing out on all these benefits is to perform a retrofit of connected IoT gateway and data feedback devices. But until recently, this kind of upgrade was a complicated and costly affair. But it doesn’t have to be anymore, and more options are available.
What is the Industrial Internet of Things?
IIoT or the Industrial Internet of Things is the industrial extension of IoT. Automation in a traditional factory improves through the use of interconnected smart sensors. Other instruments work with sensors to take advantage of data collection and analysis. This happens on a networked (Internet) platform.
Options for Connecting your Factory Floor
There are several options now available for connecting your legacy systems to the IoT. These include
Retrofitting IIoT Connectivity. IoT gateways use software, sensors, and industrial-based control systems to provide a simple connection that can send data in real-time.
Using Video Cameras. Video analytics allow cameras to recognize objects, people, or issues on your floor automatically.
Using Edge Devices. Data can be accessed via local devices. This can improve security and provide access to process data more quickly.
Using Biometric Devices. Your employees can become part of your data acquisition through the use of biometric wearables or tags. This works in conjunction with additional upgrades.